City headhunter Harry Martin-Dreyer has just made the biggest recruitment selection of his life - picking who will share a two-man rowing boat with him for an epic charity voyage across the Atlantic.
Harry, 26, who works for a financial search firm, has chosen his close friend Alex Bland, a former investment manager at Smith & Williamson, to help him row the treacherous 3,000 mile journey across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Barbados.
The pair will undertake the voyage entirely unaided. Under the searing heat of the sun and through the night, they will be rowing alternately on two hour shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for up to three months, facing the risk of tropical storms, huge waves, colossal super tankers and even sharks. They will experience acute physical pain, sleep deprivation and psychological exhaustion along the way.
The goal behind their voyage is to raise a total of £100,000 for JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charity, and Cure Leukaemia, a Midlands based blood cancer charity. The two young men have deeply personal connections to the two charities. Alex’s brother lives with type 1 diabetes. Harry’s mother, Alexandra Martin, sadly died in March after her recovery from leukaemia was cut short by severe pneumonia.
Harry and Alex are currently both in training to gain 25kg in bodyweight, to compensate for what they will lose during the row. They begin their voyage in December, when winds should be favourable for an east to west Atlantic crossing.
The feat is something still only a small number of people have tried and even fewer completed – at the last count the Ocean Rowing Society acknowledged only 286 successful Atlantic rows. This is far fewer than have climbed Everest, and half the number that have been into space.
The voyage is to be known as Rafayel Rowing 4 Research, following the generous decision of Rafayel on the Left Bank – Battersea’s environmentally-conscious luxury hotel – to sponsor it.
Harry said: "All families affected by leukaemia and type 1 diabetes have faced tough challenges. That's why we wanted to take on this huge task on behalf of these two special charities. The money raised will help to fund vital medical research into both leukaemia and type 1 diabetes."
On a lighter note, he added: “As a City recruiter, I always look for determination, guts and stamina in my candidates. Alex has all those skills and more. Now he just needs to learn how to row.”
Michael Connellan of JDRF said: “Alex and Harry are two normal City workers who have decided to undertake an immense and heroic charity journey. The funds they raise will provide a great boost for our mission to prevent, treat and find the cure for type 1 diabetes. We are deeply grateful.”
James McLaughlin, Cure Leukaemia CEO, said: “This is a huge challenge that Harry and Alex are taking on and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have them behind us during our tenth anniversary year. With their support, we can raise vital funds for specialist nurses to administer lifesaving drug trials.”
If you want to back their charity adventure with a donation, please visit www.rowing4research.com